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Your Green Quiz
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How informed are you about some basic green living concepts? Take this quick quiz to find out:

1. Antibacterial and antimicrobial cleaners, disinfectants and soaps must contain what?
a. Pesticides
b. Perfume
c. Safe Chemicals that kill germs

2. The best natural disinfectant for the home is: 
a. All-Purpose Spray Cleanser
b. Bleach
c. Vinegar

3. The best type of bleach to use is
a. Chlorine
b. Nonchlorine
c. Color-fast

Check out the answers below to see how you did. It is important to understand what’s in the products you use to clean your home and personal care items.

For instance, any product labeled as an antibacterial must contain pesticides. This means you end up spreading a layer of pesticides in and around surfaces, floors and countertops by simply cleaning up, exposing anyone in your home to these chemical. In fact, more than 275 different active ingredients in antibacterial products are classified as pesticides by the EPA.

Even though vinegar is a natural disinfectant, it cannot be labeled antibacterial because it hasn’t been registered with the EPA as a pesticide. Look for grain-based vinegars or organic versions. Some white vinegar comes from petroleum, a nonrenewable product source.

When it comes to bleach, chlorine bleach is very caustic and degrades into two byproducts harmful to the human body, dioxins and organochlorines. Go for the nontoxic variety by selecting oxygen bleach or nonchlorine beaches. Oxygen bleach uses the prefix “oxy” in most retail labels. These are gentler on clothes and cause minimal color fading. Be sure to stay away from the fragranced versions as these add chemicals back into the product.

1. a. For a manufacturer to put the “antibacterial” label on a cleaner, the active ingredient has to be registered with the EPA as a pesticide.

2. c. Tests from the Good Housekeeping Institute showed vinegar kills 99% of all bacteria, 82% of all molds, and 80% of germs and viruses.

3. b. Nonchlorine bleaches and/or those that have the prefix “Oxy” in their names are the green preference.

Consuelo Meux, Ph.D. is a Certified Green Living Coach. www.sterlingtac.com